Dashboard Confessional reveals its unwavering ‘fidelity’



Kyle Goehner

“MTV Unplugged” is a program that has produced fantastic music. Nirvana’s best album is arguably “Unplugged in New York,” and artists as diverse as Jay-Z and Alanis Morrisette have created whole, fresh albums on this program. Prestigious artists like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan have appeared and brought whole new interpretations to their classic songs. Now starting a series, “MTV Unplugged 2.0,” the station has chosen an odd way to kick off a series mostly appreciated for the contrast created between the electric and acoustic performances. Dashboard Confessional is an acoustic band. The only rearranging that seems to be done on this album is when the lead singer and songwriter, Chris Carrabba, allows the audience to sing the songs. There is something to be said for a two-year-old band that has a loyal following such as this. Dashboard Confessional, and Carrabba more specifically, writes to the love/angst set and does it very well. They are definitely passionate; the only drawback to this is that so are the 15-year-old girls in the background.

With no songs truly rearranged and no new songs, this album basically becomes a greatest hits album from a band with only two full studio albums. The songs are good and the combination of folk and punk is an original sound. The strength of the lyrics is in its storytelling ability; the songs emotionally put you where the speaker is, even if it is not quite poetic. “Saints and Sailors,” an angry song describing a relationship on the decline with lyrics such as “So don’t be a liar / don’t say that everything’s working / when everything’s broken” might not be great writing. However, in the context of the song and the sound, it does its job — the listener understands, empathizes and becomes angry too.

On the other hand, the best song on the album is the happiest, “Hands Down.” It is an ode to the first date, to the butterflies that are associated with the first kiss, to the thrill of almost getting caught, to falling in love. We hope Carrabba has better luck and continues write more songs like this for the spring release “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar.”

What makes this album worth the purchase is the bonus DVD of “Dashboard Confessional Unplugged.” It allows you to see that yes, the teenage girls really are as annoying as they seem on the album. It also allows a viewer to see that, even after repeated playing, songs like “The Good Fight” are still filled with passion.

Dashboard Confessional sells because relationships end and people want to share their emotions with others — the basis for “emo-rock.” Dashboard Confessional is credited for bringing emo-rock to the mainstream, and the traits of this movement, the simple lyrics, the emotion, the simple, powerful music performed by small bands, are easily seen on this album. Those traits also make an album like “Unplugged” easy to like. The simple nature of the music and the way songs leave nothing hidden, makes its music a communal experience with everyone who has ever lost a love.

Hence, this album with a 20-something male and 15-year-old girls singing loudly and passionately, will probably also have you singing along.